Last year, the ABC appointed the left-leaning, News Limited-fixated, John Howard effigy-bashing (yes, really) editor of Crikey, Jonathan Green to its online operations.

Since then, Green has invested  our money into publishing the left-leaning, News Limited-fixated, Howard/Abbott-bashing views from his Crikey friends. He apparently considers this to be balanced out by occasional columns by token conservatives from the Institute of Public Affairs and near unreadable quotation mark-riddled efforts from former Liberal Leader John Hewson.

However, the real test of anyone’s political allegiance is what they write or publish during an election campaign. How then to measure this?

In the following analysis, I have looked at all of the articles published at the ABC’s The Drum and Unleashed sites during Week One of the election campaign and quantified positive and negative mentions of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. Where there is an opinion expressed about Julia Gillard (or her campaign) that is positive or negative, I have noted it as G+ or G-. For Tony Abbott, I have given the value A+ or A-.

Some stories have a political leaning, but there is not a declarative statement made about one candidate or the other, so it is recorded as having Nil positive or negative statements about either candidate.

The following are these articles, with the value laden items picked out and given a value: Luke Walladge:

Changing leaders has done no damage to Labor’s chances at all – because Tony Abbott is unelectable and his party is a rabble. A-

(I suppose it could be argued that Abbott’s inability to even lie convincingly is a positive – but as selling points go its not much of a winner). A-

Serious politicians would put a price on carbon, would rule out playing silly buggers with people’s wages and conditions, would stop talking nonsense about debts and deficit in the country with the lowest debt level in the OECD. But Tony Abbott was never that serious. A-

…rather than focus on the Government chaos of the last six months Tony Abbott’s been content to let the media spotlight burn a searing hole into his credibility. A-

Tony Abbott seems intent on validating all the worst fears of the electorate – refusing to rule out industrial relations changes, making unsustainable promises on maternity leave and climate change, saying silly things about the economy. A- Barrie Cassidy:

So often in the past, the opposition leader has been judged the winner of week one; partly because of reduced expectations; partly because the media loves a contest; and sometimes because they have actually performed well. Abbott clearly hasn’t. Tony Abbott is behind… A-


The Building an Education Revolution report is coming out at some stage in August before the election and that cannot be free of criticism. That is all Gillard’s. G- Dominic Knight:

But for Tony Abbott, sitting alongside him and no doubt even more uncomfortable on the show than he usually feels around gay men, it was much tougher. A-

Most unpleasantly of all, when Abbott walked onto the set, he was booed. Which I’m sure is horrible under most circumstances, but must be especially galling coming from people with as low standards as a Hey Hey audience. A-


The irony is that Tony Abbott is one of the most natural, comfortable politicians we’ve got under most circumstances. A+ Nikki Savva:

Gillard’s campaign signature dish so far is best described as a big bowl of rehydrated mashed potato with tomato sauce on top. Bland, boring and unhealthy. And if that doesn’t sound tempting, there is always the muddle of Abbott’s alphabet soup. G-. A-.

And weeks of restraint and careful management of Abbott evaporated in the space of a few critical hours to reveal a shambolic picture of a man and a campaign caught hopelessly unprepared. A-

No matter how many stakes he tries to drive into the heart of that policy, its demonic force will never be extinguished so long as the messages from Abbott and the party remain contradictory and unconvincing. A-

Although there is only one debate thanks to the timid approach being adopted by Gillard on this and most other issues. G-

With nauseating frequency Gillard says she wants us to move forward together. Everywhere except on population, that is, where she said the other day she wants us to take a breath and “step back”. G-

When Gillard says she is opposed to a big Australia, she might be speaking truthfully, but I remain to be convinced that she is pushing anything other than a slogan with a dog whistle dangling from it urged on by the pollsters and the pygmies of the right who have done such a brilliant job getting New South Wales to where it is today. G- (criticised from Left.)

Then again, thinking small has been a hallmark of her campaign so far, so let’s assume she does mean it. G- (criticised from Left). Dana Robertson:

 …[Abbott's] outward charm belies a chaotic organisation behind the scenes. A-

…from a distance it seems the Gillard campaign too has lacked excitement…G- Chris Graham:

Julia Gillard – a former Aboriginal affairs spokeswoman – is not a complete stranger to black politics. G+ Malcolm Farnsworth:


Abbott’s appearance in Brisbane was scratchier than Gillard’s. A-

Abbott is a shameless political operator. A-

Abbott gave a stilted interview on the SBS news. A-

Gillard may have made the first linguistic blunder of the campaign. G-

Gillard’s speech on population to the Eidos Institute was strikingly clear and replete with vivid imagery. She is good at painting word pictures. G+ Annabel Crabb:

Ms Gillard is not a habitual maker of careless mistakes. G+

Julia Gillard, however, is a better communicator. G+ Marieke Hardy:

Tony Abbott will eventually be forced to open his mouth and say something…This is like Where’s Wally, but with a far greater chance of ensuing foot-in-mouth. A-

Much will be made of Julia Gillard’s sartorial choices. And very little, interestingly, about Tony Abbott’s. Unless he’s been stupid enough to go strolling about the streets wearing nothing but his swimmers and a vaguely predatory leer again. Please note: this is a likely occurrence. A-  Annabel Crabb:

Julia Gillard, for her part, is doing an excellent job of cauterising the botched bits she inherited. G+

Keeping a straight face in front of a freak show is an admirable skill, and in some circumstances it might be considered good practice for future cabinet meetings, but otherwise it’s difficult to see what Mr Abbott’s presence contributed to the democratic process. A- Annabel Crabb:

Poor Mr Abbott. What do you do when one of your deeply-held views is inconsistent with the majority will of the people? A- Madonna King:

And the latest polling shows Queenslanders are not forgiving Julia Gillard yet for her leadership axing of the hometown boy…G- Sabra Lane

I think Ms Gillard genuinely has a funny bone, and tries to see the lighter side of situations to charm people and diffuse situations that could potentially get out of hand. G+ Norman Abjorensen:

When did Australians start cheering for the overdog, the boss and the bully? A-

Julia Gillard, for all her novelty, seems adrift in an unfamiliar sea, mouthing vacuous platitudes such as “moving forward.” G- (Criticised from left.) Glenn Milne:

Every time he does it he reminds Queensland voters that Gillard not only took him out, but along with him Queensland’s long awaited claim to political pre-eminence. G- Bob Ellis:

…Gillard’s complicity in these failures. She bought and supported his policy cowardice, and is now in the habit, like him, of putting things off for yonks until years and far decades I, for one, won’t see. G- (Criticised from Left.)

Scalded by the pink batts, the school-halls blow-out, the laptop delays, the multiplying boat-people and East Timor’s audible anger at being treated like houseboys, she prefers to do nothing at all and hope to smile and patronise her way to August 21 and then crawl under the lino and pray a miracle happens in Queensland. G- (Criticised from Left.) Bob Ellis:

Gillard seems royally calm and Abbott boyishly, sweatily edgy. G+, A-

Abbott seems all over the shop. A-

She might ask Abbott if he stands by this. She might ask him how the Derwent Hospital is doing, and whether his treatment of Bernie Banton hastened his death only six days later. A-

She might emphasise the rogue-crocodile side of Abbott that has lately been concealed… A-  Jeff Sparrow:

Gillard seizing every opportunity to denounce Ruddite slogans like ‘Big Australia’ despite playing a key role herself in formulating them. (Criticised from Left.) G- Ben Pobjie: Nil. Dominic Knight: Nil Annabel Crabb: Nil Marius Benson: Nil Lyndal Curtis: Nil. John Hewson: Nil Lisa Millar: Nil.  Jonathan Holmes: Nil. Malcolm Farnsworth: Nil Nick Ross: Nil Ben Eltham: Nil. Ben Pobjie. (Pobjie is a leftie, but I have given his assertions a nil-value, because sometimes a joke is just a joke.)


For the week starting Saturday 19 July and ending Friday 24 July at the ABC’s online website, The Drum and Unleashed, Prime Minister Gillard had 14 negative mentions and 7 positive mentions. Nearly half of all critical mentions of Gillard came from the Left, so did not reflect conservative opinion.

Over the same period, Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott had 24 negative mentions and one positive mention. None of his criticism came from the Right. Included in his criticism was a suggestion by Bob Ellis that he caused the premature death of Bernie Banton.

The only positive comment for Tony Abbott during the first week of the election coverage in The Drum or Unleashed came from the Chaser’s Dominic Knight: “The irony is that Tony Abbott is one of the most natural, comfortable politicians we’ve got under most circumstances…” which then went on to criticise him for his appearance on Hey Hey It’s Saturday.

Thus in the first week of the election campaign, the ABC online opinion websites are running two negative comments for every positive comment about Julia Gillard, and 24 to one against Tony Abbott.